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Should snowboarders wear wrist guards?​

Medical Moments

Diana Koelliker

The answer is absolutely!

The top three types of injuries seen among snowboarders in the ER are head injuries/concussions, shoulder injuries and wrist injuries. Although many skiers and snowboarders now wear helmets on the mountain, wrist guards are not as common. Wrist injuries most commonly seen in the ER are sprains and fractures. Studies have shown a decrease in the number and severity of wrist injuries when wrist guards are worn. This is especially true in the younger, less experienced snowboarders. All too often, young snowboarders experience minor wrist fractures that may have been prevented by wearing wrist guards.

By making wrist guards a standard piece of your equipment like your helmet or ski pass, you’ll be less likely to forget them. Typical reasons for not wearing wrist guards are “I couldn’t find them”, “I forgot”, “they won’t fit under my gloves”, etc. However, some gloves are now made with wrist guards built in.

There’s a common misconception that wearing wrist guards may redirect potential injuries to areas above the guard. Studies have not been shown to support this misconception. Many orthopedic surgeons feel that in the unlikely event that a person does sustain a fracture above the wrist guards, it is likely that a more severe fracture may have occurred had wrist guards not been worn.

The bottom line, especially for kids, is to wear wrist guards along with a helmet when snowboarding. Wrist guards just may help you avoid a trip to the ER and six weeks of downtime waiting for a fracture to heal.

Stay safe out there and have a great season.

***Telluride Regional Medical Center Quickfacts 2016 -For a brief update on the current state of the Telluride Regional Medical Center, growth figures for 2015, plans for a new facility in Mountain Village, as well as the funding strategy for the new facility, click here.

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